Miss Pyongyang

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The greatest playwright on the Korean peninsula has a new challenger. Yoduk Story, a musical featuring a cast of 40 and a girl-prison-guard chorus dressed in military skirts and boots that will delight uniform fetishists throughout the Pacific Rim, tells the story of the doomed romance between a North Korean prison camp commander and an imprisoned dancer. The show is the toast of Seoul, despite having been strongly discouraged by ROK government officials intent on accommodating the hermetic dictatorship of Kim Jong-Il:

[Director Jung Sung San] flashes a fiery smile as he talks about trying to get the show staged overseas and made into a film here. "We know the actual situation in North Korea is 10 times worse," he says, who learned that his father was stoned to death in a public execution five years ago. "This is just like leaking the surface of a watermelon"—a Korean expression.

The reason for the government's nervousness about the show is that it counters the policy of avoiding any criticism of North Korea while pursuing reconciliation, trade, investment, and reunions of millions of families divided by the Korean War.

Government officials refuse to confirm or deny charges of pressure to ban the show. For the record, they say they have not seen it and are not interested in doing so.

The Dear Leader, as John Gorenfeld told Reason readers a while back, is quite a theater diva himself, having penned the landmark critical work On the Art of Opera as well as the book and music for the smash hit Sea of Blood. Kim Jong-Il has not rendered a verdict on the new play, though we can expect his judgment will be strong, insightful, and rich in revolutionary wisdom. Yoduk Story's backers have no current plans to take the show north of the DMZ, though a South Korean touring production is likely.

Now I don't like to generalize from personal anecdotes, but I had a (Great- and Dear-leader hating) Korean housemate in college who, when she came out of the closet, was dismissed by her parents with the opinion, "That's a white disease." And here we've got political and cultural leaders who communicate through the medium of forbidden-love romances and have very definite opinions about showtunes. So maybe this whole Korean conflict might blow over if some people would just be upfront about their feelings.

NEXT: Murderous Overtime

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  1. Pacific rim? Is that some kind of fetish too?

  2. For christ’s sake, why don’t the south koreans just invite the little prick to a meeting in Seoul, and arrange for him to die in a car wreck while being chased by paparazzi?

    -jcr

  3. JCR,

    Because the South Koreans do not want the North to collapse and be stuck with the bill. In the meantime they allow millions of their fellow Koreans to be starved to death and murdured. Someday when North Korea finally collapses, the national guilt for Sourth Korea is going to be unbelievable. Imagine is half of America were rulled by the most murderous dicator imagineable and the rest of the county not only did nothing to stop it but often actively collaborated to prop up the dictator because they were too cheap to help out. When the bill comes due, it is going to be awful for the South.

  4. The reason for the government’s nervousness about the show is that it counters the policy of avoiding any criticism of North Korea while pursuing reconciliation, trade, investment, and reunions of millions of families divided by the Korean War.

    Hard to believe this is the same country (South Korea) that ten years ago tried to ban Geocities because one of their users had a website detailing his trip to North Korea which included images of North Korean propaganda. I personally think that the recent warm attitude about the North among the young South Koreans is a byproduct of the excesses of the authoritarian regimes of the ’70s and early ’80s. People tend to discount information produced by a discredited government-even if, in this case, it is true.

    That said, the South’s best hope is that Kim adopts some Chinese-style reforms and somehow pulls the country back from total economic collapse. Otherwise, the alternative is going to make German Reunification look like a cakewalk. Think Iraq is a bottomless pit? At least they have oil and their entrepreneur class has not been totally eliminated.

    And in a strange coincidence, my Dad is at a conference in Pusan right now. Maybe I should ask him to pick up a book of Dear Leader’s thoughts, a current bestseller in the south.

  5. “So maybe this whole Korean conflict might blow over if some people would just be upfront about their feelings”

    Yeah, it’s like the Koreans say, this whole in-the-closet thing is just like leaking the surface of a watermelon.

  6. Imagine is half of America were rulled by the most murderous dicator imagineable and the rest of the county not only did nothing to stop it but often actively collaborated to prop up the dictator because they were too cheap to help out.

    Fortunately, we Americans have never propped up dictators for economic reasons.

  7. Not involving our own people Theoreau. That is the point. No, not many people care about Pinochet in Chile, but they sure as hell would if Pinochet ruled half of the U.S.. That was my point. (Not that Pinochet is even in the Kim’s league). I hope you at least felt the draft as it whisled over your head.

  8. Did you say, Miss Pyoongtang?

    Just londerwing.

  9. Theoreau, while this may considered a snipe attack, the uber-solvent of america have held up a few would be dictators/theocrats for economic reasons. I’ll put in my own two devalued cents as Reagan and Bush. Garsh darn it, their economic policies are as equivocal to class warfare as I’ve lived and/or seen. They have both managed to utilize the most theocratic populations under the poverty line as a fanatical voting bloc, while also engaging the most vital interests of their atherocratic monied base as a source of funding. A cheap example would encompass the fact that they have a minority poor population that would, if need be, justify suicide bombings on american soil if their spiritual advisors told them that it served their “pre-millenial” purposes and at the same time managed to asuage their major contibutors into a sense of safety that their estates and other holdings will be left untaxed and similarly tax shelthered from further federal encroachment. Within the defintion of “Unitary Executive” that has been extraordinaly practiced by the current US administration, we have retrogressed from a democracy, and/or a republic. Semantics aside, we in america, by my view, already live in a dicatorship by legal proxy. I won’t bother with the current legal fictions of extralegal state torture and unlawful wire tapping. Well, that is my uneducated view of it.

  10. …maybe this whole Korean conflict might blow over if some people would just be upfront about their feelings.

    I’m so ronery…

  11. Correct — Open borders, make sense ONLY — if individuals coming in are OPEN MINDED and ready to adapt to the ways of the new country. If you have a large group — not of individuals –but of people intent on simply taking territory and forcing the citizens of the nation they are coming to, to adapt to them, to REVERSE ASSIMILATE the natives of the new country– then that doesn’t make sense == therefore I agree with Erik’s last post

  12. Correct — Open borders, make sense ONLY — if individuals coming in are OPEN MINDED and ready to adapt to the ways of the new country. If you have a large group — not of individuals –but of people intent on simply taking territory and forcing the citizens of the nation they are coming to, to adapt to them, to REVERSE ASSIMILATE the natives of the new country– then that doesn’t make sense == therefore I agree with Erik’s last post

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